As much as you may not want it, or even want to think about it, there are good odds you’ll need long-term care later in life.
Although you might want to stay in your own home as much as possible for the rest of your life, your circumstances and your health may make this not possible.
Instead, you may end up having to relocate to a place that is safer, more secure, and provides a higher level of care than you could receive at home.
According to LongTermCare.gov, people 65 and older today have a 70 percent chance of needing some sort of long-term care and support.
The amount varies by gender and by health – women generally need this sort of care a little longer, about 3.7 years, than men, who need about 2.2 years.
While 1/3 of those who are 65 may not need formal care, about 20 percent will need it for at least five years.
Sometimes the need for long-term care may be due to what is happening in someone’s life. Someone who can get around fine by themselves might be okay living at their own home for as long as they want, especially if they have others around such as a spouse, children, family, or roommates. Although these people may not have official training as caregivers, some can provide the basics of these services as needed.
Staying at home also saves money that people may not have or may not want to spend. (It isn’t necessarily by choice – not everyone is eager to spend large amounts of money on care, or have even saved up for it.)
They could also connect with a home health agency to provide occasional visits from home health providers such as nurses, aides, or therapists to provide various services, everything from basic check-ups to physical therapy. Aides can also provide non-medical services such as transportation, housework, even meal preparation.
But if physical or mental health conditions do change, which could include everything from a diagnosis of cancer to the appearance of dementias or Alzheimer’s disease, one might need more care or security than their fellow residents and even in-house caregivers is able to provide. Or if members change, such as family moving away or a spouse passing away, could also affect the living situation and the finances.
One of the biggest situations that increases the urgency of needing long-term care is mobility.
A 2011 study from the National Library of Medicine indicates that as manyasf 90 percent of residents in long-term care facilities have some kind of mobility challenge which affects their quality of life.
The publication was more directed at staff and management of these facilities, and encouraged these places to be aware of mobility challenges for their residents in their training and procedures for daily care.
This can include working with residents in their rooms, helping them get around the facility, and reducing the risk of falls.
Some residents also see a decline in their health after moving to a long-term care facility, which owners and managers should pay attention to. Problems with mobility may also increase the risk of injury to the staff as well, especially if a patient has balance problems when they’re being moved around.
A fall can be particularly devastating to anyone, but could certainly impact many seniors in difficult ways.
They often have balance, strength, and flexibility challenges that can increase their risk of falling. They can also take longer to heal when an injury occurs.
Even if an injury from a fall is physical, it could be devastating to their life and increase the risk of depression.
For instance, if a fall leads to them having to move to a long-term care facility, it could also be hard on them mentally because of the disruption and changes, especially if it happens suddenly.
Long-term care positives
To avoid some of the last-minute challenges that can accompany searching for long-term care, health experts suggest planning ahead.
Insurance agents and financial representatives can help you put a plan together for future long-term care needs. This can include looking for affordable options or even putting together a fund for it that you can contribute to until you or a family member needs it.
They can also explain some of the different costs and different options depending on the level of care needed – some people may benefit from living in an apartment with access to medical services as needed but others may need more active rehabilitation and more medical services. Those with dementia may be fine physically but would benefit from a facility that focuses on memory care.
Because the number of people needing long-term care is growing, there are a variety of services available. Long-termcare.gov, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, offers several online resources including the assistance of a “Pathfinder” who can point you in the right direction based on you and your family’s situation.
There are even steps people can take and options to pursue before they turn 50, between the ages of 51 and 64, and even after age 64.